The Dream Circle – Máire Malone


“A deep and intelligent novel.”

Diane Madoc

Reeling from a personal tragedy, psychotherapist Fergus Doherty seeks solace in his lifelong fascination with dreams.

He founds Ireland’s first Dream Circle, where, once a week, seven very different individuals come together to look for meaning in their unconscious visions.

When the enigmatic Pearl Conors joins the group, Fergus senses an instant, and powerful attraction between them, and the Dream Circle’s future is put at risk… Set amid the boom years of the Celtic Tiger, The Dream Circle explores whether love can overcome ethical and social boundaries – and if lives can truly be transformed through the power of dreams.


“With a flawed hero and brave heroine, The Dream Circle offers a profound exploration of their redemptive love story, set against past traumas. A poetic page turner, the novel also shows how dreams – if attended to – can influence conscious life choices.”

Dr E. T. Mann


“Welcome, everyone.”  I spoke in what I hoped was an amicable tone.  “The title of this course is the dream circle.  I formed this circle because I am passionate about dreams.  You see, it’s my belief that some dreams are private like letters from the soul, while others serve as passports into wider worlds.  If we take them seriously, they will reward us with bountiful riches.”

Bridget Cassidy raised her hand.

“Yes, Bridget?” I said.

“What sort of riches?” She sat with her legs crossed, a high heel dangling from her toes.  While I was considering how best to respond, Pearl Conors spoke.

“My grandma used to say if we listen to our dreams we can learn to choose how we live.  She had the Gift, you see.  She told me that when I was still in my cradle…” She blushed as she trailed off.

“Exactly, Pearl,” I said, a rush of enthusiasm in my voice.  “Your grandmother was spot on.  So many people claim they are victimised and trapped.  If they would only listen to their dreams, sift through the dross and refine the gold, they would realise their wealth.  Then they might be free to choose authentic lives.”

Bridget waved her hand again.

“Yes, Bridget?”

“Can you explain what exactly a dream circle is?” Perched on the edge of her seat, rocking her shoe back and forth, she looked as eager as a child.

Before I could answer, a stocky man with flabby cheeks and a broad grin said, “If you please, is there any chance of a cushion for my teen-weeny baby chair?”

Laughter rippled through the group.  I remembered his name from the file:  Eamon Doyle.  He had written one word on his application form in answer to why he wished to join up: ‘Curiosity’.  There was always one sharp wit ready to exhaust a joke.  I smiled in polite acknowledgement but I wasn’t going to encourage him.

“Sorry, Eamon.  If it’s a warm arse you’re after you’ve signed up for the wrong course.  A little bit of hardship is no bad thing.”

The group sniggered.

I went back to Bridget.  “To answer your question, I need to mention the Native Americans.  For them, the circle symbolised equality.  No one was more important than any other person.  They used circles for closeness and protection.  Dancing took place in the centre, formed by drums and important members of the audience.  The onlookers formed another circle around the gathering.  A peace pipe and a flag were tied to a flag staff.  No one could interrupt the person holding the Talking Stick and everyone listened to what was being said.  Circles like these were formed to solve tribal disputes.”

Bridge smiled.  “I understand about equality and that but where do the dreams come in?”

“Well, the Native American dream circle developed what might be considered a tribal unconscious.  In other words, their dreams interlinked and impacted on one another.  When I read about dream circles being formed by therapists in the US and the UK, I spoke to my supervisor and together we discussed the possibility of me setting one up in Dublin.”  I paused and looked around the room.  “Bridget, and indeed all of you, please stop me if I am galloping ahead or using terms you’re not familiar with.  As the weeks roll over, I will equip you as best I can with tools and techniques so that you can access the hidden power of your dreams and learn how to live more truthfully.”

Bridget nodded, still swinging her high-heeled shoe from her toe.

“That’s brilliant,” she said.  “I can’t wait.”

“OK,” I said, “I want you to chat to your neighbour and tell them how you are feeling at this moment.  Keep it brief – first person talking for a couple of minutes, then change over and allow your partner to tell you their feelings, OK?”

“You mean right now?”

“Absolutely right now, Eamon.  When we share our dreams, we need to know who we are confiding in.”

Eamon shifted around in his chair.  I guessed it wasn’t only the chair that was causing his discomfort.  Here was someone who didn’t find it easy to reveal his true feelings.

My chair was next to Pearl’s and she turned to me, her eyebrows raised.

“So, Pearl,” I said, “I see from your form that you consider dreams to be mysterious.  How do you feel now you’re here?”

She smiled.  “I guess I do believe dreams are mysterious.  Ma passed that one on to me, but she warned me to leave them be.  I’m not so sure we should… leave them be, I mean.  I feel excited being with a group of people who are passionate about dreams.”  She smoothed down the skirt of her dress.  Her smile faded, and her forehead settled into a frown. “Your turn,” she said.  “What nudged you to set up this circle?”


“An impressive, absorbing first novel.”


About the Author

Máire Malone was born and reared in Dublin where she worked as a medical secretary for ten years.  She moved to the UK where she obtained an honours BA in Arts and Psychology. For over twenty years she followed a career in Counselling & Psychotherapy with a particular interest in dreams.  

Máire has been a writer for as far back as she can remember and several of her poems have been selected and published by Ver Poets and other anthologies.  She has had short story prize wins in Scribble magazine and a recent story was shortlisted in Words and Women Competition, 2018.  Selected for a place on the Novel Studio Course in 2017, Máire completed a draft of her debut novel here.  An excerpt and synopsis of The Dream Circle was shortlisted in Adventures in Fiction – New Voices Competition 2018 and proclaimed to be ‘a particularly strong contender’ by the judges.

Máire currently lives in Hertfordshire with her husband.